Point of View Columns

A Public Service Announcement


It appears that the silly season has come to an end and now the politics of America is infused with deserved life and death gravity. We have been inundated with 24 hour news reports of G.O.Tea Party nympholepsy – witches in Delaware, wrestling impresarias in Connecticut, wannabe thugs in New York and know nothings in Nevada.

For those who appreciate the history and the present tense of politics and political discourse this tsunami of silliness has been nothing short of entertaining. But it is not entertainment. This is not “Dancing With The Stars” with lecterns or “American Idol” with teleprompters. It is a very serious time in this country and there should be no doubt as to what is at stake in the November 2nd midterm elections.

The call to “take back America” is not a slogan; it is a philosophy that encompasses moving this country back to a place in time. It is a place where civil rights and women’s rights are subject to question and debate – again. It is a place where compassion and common sense, embodied in government programs like Social Security, Medicare, environmental protection and healthcare would be eliminated or eviscerated.

It is a dada political world in which we find ourselves. It is a world where no sense makes sense. It is hard to imagine that Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin have millions of followers, but they do. It is difficult to believe that Americans value the judgment of Rush Limbaugh. But they do. And they vote.

And that is the point of this public service announcement. This announcement does not require a video loop of a flag waving with the national anthem playing in the background, but it is important to note the importance of voting. It is always been important, but now more than ever it is crucial that we all exercise our right to vote.

It has become a cliché, but some clichés are true. It is true that many people died for the right of all American citizens to vote. The wars, foreign and civil, and internal struggles that granted suffrage to all citizens as a matter of right were not victimless.

As a black American, I am particularly mindful of the unnamed men and women, for whom no monuments have ever been erected, who lost their livelihoods, their homes and their lives so that all I have to do is walk to a polling station, sign my name and vote.

To squander this right due to apathy or dissatisfaction with the current choices is to miss the point. Politics and governance will never be about perfection – it will always be about the art of the possible. Further, and as importantly, there are millions of American men and women who have an agenda – however misguided, misinformed and bizarre it may be. Those who sit at home on November 2nd due to apathy and dissatisfaction with the current choices are in effect handing over their hard-earned right to vote to Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin and the Tea Party zealots who do believe that their vote makes a difference.

A regular reader of the Point of View knows that I am not a supporter of the Tea Party or Sarah Palin or the G.O.Tea Party. But I have to respect their commitment and dedication to changing this country to suit their vision and will. And it is very clear to me that whatever the outcome of the November 2nd elections that the right wing of the right wing and their subterranean billionaire supports have indeed changed this country and the fundamental character of national discourse.

Infinite questioning of the citizenship of the President of the United States, seriously considering the repeal of the 14th Amendment, legalization of guns in bars, debating the need for the Departments of Education and Energy – these are all fundamental changes. The line has been drawn deeply in the sands of the national town square.

It would be a frightful shame if those with the right to vote and the desire to see change of another fashion were to sit at home on November 2nd. You can be certain that the zealots with a different vision will be at the polls voting early and……often.

Think about it and don’t wait until November 3rd to act. Wishing that you voted will turn out to be the saddest wish of all.